KEYNOTES

Wednesday 28 August 2024

Activist/transformative theory for education premised on changing the-world-and-ourselves within world-historical struggles

Anna Stetsenko; Professor of psychology and of urban education at the City University of New York, United States

Marxism, and Vygotsky’s project in its footsteps, outlined a dramatic change in perspective for social sciences including psychology and education. This was achieved by positing collective transformative praxis — communally co-realized by people in continuous world-historical struggles stretching across generations — to be the core grounding and the very “fabric” of human existence/life, history, and development. This proposition’s radical implications require further elucidations and clarifications at onto-epistemological and ethical levels, especially given global sociopolitical crises directly affecting education and scholarship and related, in no small part, to outmoded ways of thinking/understanding/theorizing what is to be done. In expanding this perspective, my suggestions (see transformative activist stance) include focusing on all people inevitably participating in and, more critically, contributing to a continuous making of the world, via our being-knowing-doing, in a mutual spiral of co-realizing-the-world-and-ourselves. The dichotomy of this process’ communal and personal layers is rejected by positing that every person matters, as a community member, in everything that is going on in the world, now and in the future. Importantly, this ethical proposition is also onto-epistemological (pointing to a unified ethico-ontoepistemology) insisting that people, including as learners, do not and never can passively dwell in reality, nor deal with and know reality “as is.” This is because—most radically, in a conceptual step beyond Marx and Vygotsky — nothing simply “is,” with the world/reality and ourselves, instead, being ceaselessly actively/agentively transformed in all acts of being-knowing-doing. Implications include radically reworking positivist notions of objectivity/subjectivity and neutrality in research and beyond and eliminating the theory/practice gap. Other implications focus on advancing teaching/learning that supports/promotes ways for learners to expand their abilities of joining in politically nonneutral world-historical struggles (collective activist projects), currently underway or in the making, as these simultaneously implicate projects of personal becoming (e.g., in community college project with Eduardo Vianna). In expanding upon Marx’s key message, the goal of education is not to interpret the world but to change it.

Emotional imagining of infants and toddlers under the motivated conditions of a Conceptual PlayWorld

Marilyn Fleer; Professor of early childhood education and development at Monash University, Australia

The aim of this presentation is to give insights into how teachers create conditions in imaginary play situations in group care settings to support the development of infant and toddler emotional imagination. Building on Zaporozhets’ research into the development of the over 3-year-olds in the contexts of fairytales, emotional imagining captures a form of emotional tension in imaginary play situations. To achieve this aim, we set up an educational experiment in a middle-class suburb in southeast Melbourne with two educators who worked with 13 infants-toddlers aged between 0.1-2.2 years. In following Hedegaard’s conceptions of motives and demands as key analytical concepts, we sought to understand teachers’ professional practices in relation to the developmental conditions created for children within the activity settings of the childcare centre. Our previous research showed that teachers do not plan or support imaginary play activity in childcare centres for infants and toddlers. The new educational practices that resulted from the intervention of a Conceptual PlayWorld showed: 1) collective explorations and emotional imagining (e.g., pretending to be in the jungle ‘as if’ a scary tiger or meeting the tiger) when supported by teachers within the different activity settings; 2) teachers bringing mature forms of imaginary play into the activity settings which infant-toddlers co-experienced (changing the meaning of everyday activity setting/objects into a jungle/animals) ; and 3) how imaginary play begins to form in the collective actions and emotionally amplified dramatisations created by the teachers. Under the conditions of our intervention, we found teacher responsiveness in introducing play content and role-development when amplifying the collective imagining of infants and toddlers. Infants co-experienced emotionally charged imaginary situations when their teachers acted as play partner, and we found that the infants began to build an understanding of self through acting ‘as if’ a character in imaginary play. The new enabling practices of emotional imagining that was co-experienced, transitioned infants and toddlers in their role-relations to early forms of “as if” role-play. This research adds to theoretical understandings of how teachers can support the earliest forms of the development of imagination in group care settings where emotional imagining is core.

Thursday 29 August 2024

Emancipatory Education for all: preparing pupils for a ‘life as creation’

Bert van Oers; Professor emeritus Cultural-Historical Theory of Education, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Emancipatory education has been a topic for reflection in CHAT-based research groups for several decades. In this lecture I want to elaborate the idea of emancipatory education following the Vygotskian perspective on ‘life as creation’. After defining the meaning of emancipatory education, I will explain how we in the Netherlands -from the perspective of Cultural-Historical Activity Theory – operationalize this emancipatory education in our approach of Developmental Education.  I will argue that Developmental Education is inherently inclusive and responsible for supporting pupils for meaningful participation in sociocultural practices, and for living their lives a creative act. On the basis of our research since the 1980s, we have several reasons to claim that we have made progress in realizing such Developmental Education in primary school practices, i.e. in realizing emancipatory education. This claim will be supported by theoretical arguments, and arguments from empirical research.

Transformative Agency in Fourth Generation Cultural-Historical Activity Theory: Enactment beyond Classic Utopianism

Annalisa Sannino; Professor at the Faculty of Education and Culture Director of the Doctoral Programme Education & Society, Tampere University, Finland

This keynote presents the framework of transformative agency by double stimulation (TADS) as a central conceptual and interventionist resource of fourth generation cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT-4G) in the making. The presentation will proceed in three steps. First, it offers an overview of the development of TADS framework, moving from in-depth analyses of Vygotsky’s writings and the Vygotskian literature on double stimulation to the realization of series of quasi-experiments and Change Laboratories, via key theoretical links established with Vasyliuk’s psychology of experiencing, the Leont’evian and Davydovian traditions leading to expansive learning, as well as philosophical and sociological approaches to the enactment of utopias. As a second step, the keynote argues for the utility of TADS in facing the necessity to move beyond classic utopianism reinstating itself through ongoing discussions on speculative design.  Examples are taken up to argue that the classic utopianist principles of speculative design – dreaming, future and technology – are largely insufficient to foster collective learning and agency for the kind of transformations educational systems and the world we live in urgently need. As a third step, the keynote offers the expansive examples of alternatives to capitalism and dominant patterns of education of the MST Landless Workers Movement in Brazil and the work toward eradication of homelessness in Finland. The keynote’s take-away message is that enacted utopias do occur, that mostly they go unnoticed and remain unsupported in their struggles, and that CHAT-4G, with the help of TADS framework, can identify these enacted utopias, understand their dynamics of becoming, and develop ways to support them by formative intervention research in the learning sciences and beyond.

Friday 30 August 2024

Summative Reflections Future Outlook Plenary Session

This session will bring together keynote speakers to offer summative reflections on the conference and share their insights into uture outlook for our industry. This plenary is designed to encapsulate the conference experience and inspire attendees with visions for what’s next. Perfect for those eager to see how today’s learnings will shape tomorrow.